Someone once told me that designing well was 10% inspiration and 90% knowing where to steal from. Actually, never mind, I said it. That's right.

These are books that I've found inspiring at various points in my life. Reading them will NOT make you a good designer. I'm proof of that. If you want to be a good designer go bug Lance. (He knows how to do fading backgrounds!)

+ Home


Perverse Optimist


Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist
This is a prerequisite for everything that follows on this list.
Not only did Tibor understand the importance of humor AS good design, he also understood the active role that design needed to take in the social landscape. He helps me to respect what I do and inspires me to make things I can respect.

You'll also enjoy:
Chairman Rolf Fehlbaum
1000 on 42nd Street

Komar & Melamid


Komar & Melamid's Scientific Guide to Art
A fun look at the evils of focus groups. Russian daredevils Komar & Melamid polled people in different countries on what they wanted to see in their art. Then they produced each country's "most wanted" and "least wanted" paintings.


Ed Fella: Letters on America


Ed Fella: Letters on America
Beautiful type is where you find it. Walker Evans taught us that our signs are beautiful. Ed Fella continues the work that Evans started late in his life, while also allowing us to see the inspiration behind his own exquisite type studies.



Ryan McGinness
Funny and sharp. Great example of art the designer as satirist. There's a section of McGinness taking graffiti tags and turning them into corporate logos.

Shawn Wolfe


Uncanny: The Art & Design of Shawn Wolfe
Shawn Wolfe
Good clean fun with a mischievous bent. Lots of branding jokes.

Raymond Pettibon


Raymond Pettibon: The Books 1978-1998
Raymond Pettibon
Looking at Raymond's drawings makes me feel like I'm 25, hanging out at Abe's Steaks in Philly drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon and making out with my best friend's girl.

Uhhh, this one may be a touch on the personal nostalgia bit.

I Am Almost Always Hungry


I Am Almost Always Hungry
Cahan & Associates
Good inspirational stuff. Fun to flip through over your morning latte as you wait for craigslist to post the new day's job listings.


Envisioning Information


Envisioning Information
Edward Tufte
Favorite Tufte quote: "Good design is clear thinking made visible." These books might actually make you a better designer.

Read all three:
Envisioning Information
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative

Understanding Comics


Understanding Comics
Scott McCloud
A comic book about how comic books work. Why is this important? Well, for one it's about COMIC BOOKS. And two, it's about thinking sequentially; one thing after another. That's right; Like the web.

It's got a sequel: Envisioning Information

Understanding Comics


Designing Web Usability : The Practice of Simplicity
Jake "The Snake" Nielson
Behind the rhetoric, behind the "guru", behind the hot air: there are some very good ideas. Jakob (yeah, we're on a first name basis, baby.) is incredibly good at pointing out problems and equally bad at offering up visual solutions. Still, if you're designing on the web or in an application space you should read this.

The Art and Science of Web Design


The Art and Science of Web Design
Jeffrey Veen
My copy's actually still in the mail, but I've been hearing some wonderful stuff about it. Since Jeff's such a handsome guy and the color matches my own site palette so well I figured let's go ahead and put it up. Word on the street is that it's a great book for beginners and the intermediate crowd. Might fill in some nice holes for the advanced set. You know who you are.

many more coming...



BiggerHand is Mike Monteiro's hapless site. SF, CA 2000